Not long after 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by police in Cleveland in November, a group of students in nearby Akron decided protests weren't enough. So the Akron PeaceMakers, an anti-violence youth group, brainstormed with the local PD to come up with a double-sided crib sheet of tips for kids to follow when interacting with cops, NPR reports. The "You and the Law" cards, set to be doled out to all Akron middle school and high school students—and possibly to adults, and internationally, in the future—feature 15 bullet points outlining "basic rights and responsibilities," as well as suggestions to ensure safety during an encounter. "Do not 'bad-mouth' or walk away from the law-enforcement officials," "control your emotions," and "do not resist arrest for any reason" are some of the tips. The top of each card mentions the "easiest way to avoid conflict with law enforcement officials is simply to stay out of trouble."
The cards have sparked a debate over whether the police are escaping their own responsibility in confrontations, NPR notes. But the kids involved say the point is to de-escalate the situation, not let cops off the hook—and there are phone numbers on the back to report police misconduct. "Instead of cussing [a police officer] out, I can just say, 'OK. Let me calm down,' and then at a later time, call the police station," one student tells NPR. Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic says the cards serve as a common-sense refresher. "Some people don't think about 'Oh, what happens when I reach in for my license,'" he said at a presentation of the cards, per Cleveland.com. Billy Soule, whose son was stopped by cops years ago with a toy gun, works with the youth group as a city rep. "Officers surrounded the boys with guns drawn and told them to go down to the ground," he says, per the site. "My son is alive today because he listened." (Read more Ohio stories.)